Two years ago we rented a motorbike and, after a few hours riding some winding roads through the mountains, we spent New Year's Eve at a tent in the top of a mountain in Northern Thailand. It was a chilly, unforgettable experience that we promised we would repeat again. Yet last year's New Year, for different reasons, was spent in Bangkok, so this past holidays we decided it was time to pack our backpack and do something similar again. We had less days off so going that far north was out of the question this time around, so after some deliberation we settled on a couple of National Parks not very far from Bangkok that any of us had visited before and that seemed more than interesting enough to cross to the New Year far from the fireworks of the city. The first of them was Sam Roi Yot.
|A game of patience, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|A house with views, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|Ban Bang Pu beach, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|Waiting for the rain, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
Sam Roi Yot is a small National Park some 50 km south of Huahin, and the main landmarks of its landscape are, not surprisingly, water (the sea, but also the marshes that abound in the area) and the rocky mountains that punctuate the landscape, creating a shocking and beautiful contrast with the flat land that lies all around. These sudden, almost vertical walls of thickly forested stone provide a great scenery and they also hide one of the best kept secrets of the National Park: countless caves, carved by erosion and water along thousands of years. One of those big cavities, besides, conceals which is probably the most coveted spot of the whole park: a small shrine that is only touched by rays of light a few hours every day. Welcome to Phraya Nakhon Cave.
|The crevice, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|Phraya Nakhon Cave I, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|Phraya Nakhon Cave II, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|Phraya Nakhon Cave III, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|The opening, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|The bridge, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
Another highlight of Sam Roi Yot National Park is Thung Sam Roi Yot, Thailand's largest freshwater marsh and a key place to see (and study) multiple bird species in a wondrous habitat. A few, long boardwalks were built over the water and zigzag through rushed and waves, with some shelters scattered along the way to protect from the sun and providing comfortable resting or viewing points from where to explore the vegetation and fauna around. However, these boardwalks and huts were in a poorly kept condition, and holes were dangerously growing in the boards and roofs with nobody around to take care of their maintenance. The place was almost deserted, as well, but, despite all, we enjoyed a serene, silent walk, with the place all to ourselves.
|The walkway I, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|The walkway II, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|The walkway III, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|The walkway IV, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|The walkway V, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
Two days that passed quicker than we would have liked, but that was not the end of our short trip, since the following day we rode the motorbike back to Huahin and took a van to the second destination of our holiday, the place where we would spend the last night of the year. Roughly 100 km away, but a landscape so vastly different than one might think he had travelled to the other extreme of the country. But that's another story, and so it deserves its own post, which will come next. To conclude this one, a couple of final captures I took as we were leaving, as a quiet, subdued farewell.
|Long gone I, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|
|Long gone II, GM1 + Lumix G Vario 12-32mm|